As part of the Chaplain's Book Discussion, Josef Korbel School doctoral candidate Gretchen Peters spoke on October 12 about her book Seeds of Terror: How Heroin is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Peters drew on more than 10 years experience of reporting in Pakistan and Afghanistan for her book. She was in Afghanistan when U.S. forces first arrived and she did not think U.S. policy makers were prepared for the lawlessness found there. With her book she set out to examine the role that drug smugglers would play in the new war on terror.
"The role of drugs, crime and corruption were all over the area and no one seemed to care about it," Peters said. "I tried to reshape the conversation."
Peters explained that corruption often flocks to areas where government is weak. Without billions in western aid, the Karzai government would not last 24 hours, she added. This, in large part, is due to the Afghan Taliban becoming more like a drug cartel.
"A lot of the Taliban commanders live in mansions, drive Mercedes, and have their kids in private schools," Peters said. "But they want us to believe they are living in caves."
Unfortunately, Peters is not optimistic about the future of Afghanistan.
"Neither side wants Afghanistan to be stable," she said. "They pretend to keep fighting each other. There is a comparative advantage to keep the problems going. So it creates this self-sustaining war."
-M. Schwinn, MA candidate in International Security
Josef Korbel School of International Studies